Woman on couch using card to shop online with shopping bags beside her

Black Friday and Cyber Monday - how to spot a real bargain

It can sometimes be hard to spot a genuine deal.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have really caught on in Ireland over recent years, with many of us using them as the kick-starter for our Christmas shopping. So far, we’ve seen sale announcements from the likes of Lidl, Ryanair, Boots, Debenhams and Smyth’s Toys - and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

But how much of what you see in the sales are real bargains, and how much is just clever marketing? We’ve got a few top tips to help you make sure the bargain that you’ve found is genuine…

1. Stick to things you know

One sure fire way to know you’re actually getting a bargain on Black Friday is to buy things you’re familiar with.

For example, if there’s something you regularly use in your skincare regime, particular jeans you buy, or certain candles you use around the home, you’ll be more likely to recognise a genuinely good deal on these items when you see one.

2. Do your research

If there’s something specific on your Christmas list that you need to get - be it for yourself or someone else - check the price of it across a few different websites now, and then compare this to the ‘offer price’ when the Black Friday deals start.

Thoroughly comparing prices might seem a bit tedious, but it’s the easiest way to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

3. Beware of the ‘was’ and ‘now’ prices

In the coming days - and weeks - you’re going to see lots of attractive offers online and in shops, with ‘was’ prices slashed and replaced with ‘now’ prices.

There’s no exact rule set out in law with regards to how long a product must be available at a certain price before it can be marked as reduced - it simply says the item must have been at the previous price for ‘a reasonable time’, so these prices can be a bit confusing.

Remember, a bargain is only a bargain if you really need the item - and spending money on something only to discover you’ve been duped out of your hard-earned cash can be very disconcerting. If you buy on Amazon a lot, CamelCamelCamel is a really useful site - it tracks prices on Amazon over time, so you can see the history and what the price movements have really been.

4. Check the fine print

Before you buy, remember to read the terms and conditions and take note of the postage charges (if any).

If you use sites like Groupon, Pigsback and Living Social, be sure to check if there are any restrictions on when vouchers must be used.

5. Make a list

It can be very easy to get caught up in the hysteria when it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Making a list beforehand will help you stay on track and make sure you don’t overspend on items you don’t need.

6. Don’t forget about your household costs

Although many people will be focussed on Christmas presents when the Black Friday deals roll around, it’s worth taking a look at the special discounts on offer from providers of household essentials, like broadband, TV and phone and mobile phones, too. And, although gas and electricity suppliers don’t generally have specific Black Friday offers, there are currently discounts of 33% available on some plans, so there are definitely savings to be made.

Switching to a discounted deal for some of these household essentials could lead to year-round savings, which could be much more valuable than a once-off Black Friday deal.

Compare energy deals now